N.C. Voters OK Ban on Gay Marriage
North Carolina voters approved a state constitutional amendment Tuesday declaring marriage is solely between a man and a woman, dealing a setback to gay-rights advocates. Approval means North Carolina becomes the 30th state with such a constitutional provision. Six states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages. The measure was put on the ballot after Republicans took control of the Legislature in the 2010 elections for the first time in 140 years. Foes of North Carolina’s newly passed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage are looking at ways to have it overturned.
- It’s obvious how ‘nature’ designed male and female bodies to function sexually – gay sex is unnatural, let alone ungodly
In Political Gamble, Obama Supports Gay Marriage
With his endorsement of gay marriage on Wednesday, President Obama electrified his liberal base, incensed cultural conservatives and may have ensured that a debate on social issues will play a part in the debate ahead of the November election. For almost two years, President Obama had said that his views on gay marriage were “evolving.” But after days of renewed pressure for clarification on the issue following strong endorsements of gay marriage from Vice President Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Obama decided to change his stated position. “At a certain point, I’ve just concluded, that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told ABC News.
- Is it coincidence that a day after President Obama endorses same-sex marriage, he’s heading out to Hollywood for a $40,000-a-plate campaign fundraiser with George Clooney that’s expected to raise $15 million? No, I don’t think so, because Obama is first and foremost a political animal.
- End-time lawlessness and rebellion over God’s prescribed social order continues to increase just as the Bible prophesies (Matt. 24:12)
Obama Executive Order Parcels Out More of Our Sovereignty
On May 1st, President Obama signed a new executive order with the innocuous title of “Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation.” The touted purpose is to cut red tape and allow U.S. companies that work overseas to grow their businesses more easily. But it’s another piece in the puzzle of U.S. sovereignty that President Obama is handing over to foreign nations. According to Businessweek, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President Sean Heather said last week, “Today’s executive order marks a paradigm shift for U.S. regulators by directing them to take the international implications of their work into account in a consistent and comprehensive way.” Buried in the doublespeak is the heart of the executive order, which is that the White House’s appointed policy panel is to consider changing any U.S. trade regulations it or its regulated businesses find inconvenient so that they match laws in foreign countries.
- With this executive order, Obama is once again going around Congress and circumventing constitutional and other legal procedures in a process that will occur far from public scrutiny in order to impose his globalist, anti-American agenda
Airline Bomb Plot Thwarted, New Technology Worrisome
Investigators were studying an explosive device Tuesday that they say terrorists in Yemen crafted to slip past airport metal detectors and onto an airplane bound for the United States. U.S. intelligence agents thwarted the plot two weeks ago after receiving a tip from Saudi Arabia. The plot highlights the resolve of terrorists to attack the United States a year after the U.S. military killed Osama bin Laden in a stunning raid inside Pakistan. It also shows the lengths they will go to to achieve that goal, adapting new technologies to try to evade security, as well as the difficulties that U.S. authorities face in trying to guard against attack, said Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. “This seems to be a new level of sophistication by al Qaeda,” King told CNN. The man who al-Qaeda hoped would carry out a plot to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner is a mole who infiltrated the terrorist organization and thwarted the attack, U.S. and Yemeni officials said Tuesday.
Border Patrol Implements New Strategy
The Border Patrol on Tuesday unveiled its first national strategy in eight years, a period in which the number of agents more than doubled and apprehensions of people entering illegally from Mexico dropped to a 40-year low. The new approach — outlined in a 32-page document that took more than two years to develop — uses buzzwords like “risk-based” and “intelligence-driven” to describe a more nuanced, targeted response to constantly evolving threats. The Border Patrol previously relied on a strategy that blanketed heavily trafficked corridors for illegal immigrants with agents, pushing migrants to more remote areas where they would presumably be easier to capture and discouraged from trying again.
The new strategy draws on intelligence to identify repeat crossers and to try to determine why they keep coming and seeks to halt a revolving-door policy of sending migrants back to Mexico without any punishment. The Border Patrol now feels it has enough of a handle to begin imposing more serious consequences on almost everyone it catches.Its “Consequence Delivery System” divides border crossers into seven categories, ranging from first-time offenders to people with criminal records. The new strategy makes no mention of expanding fences and other physical barriers and only brief mention of technology in the wake of a failed $1 billion program that was supposed to put a network of cameras, ground sensors and radars along the entire border. The agency is moving more toward mobile surveillance like unmanned aerial vehicles and helicopters.
USA is 25th Best Place to Be a Mom
Just in time for Mother’s Day, an annual ranking of the best and worst countries in which to be a mom puts the USA in 25th place, up from 31st last year. The 13th annual State of the World’s Mothers report by the Save the Children foundation, out today, examines the well-being of mothers and their children in 165 countries, based on a range of measures, including mothers’ education, infant mortality and breastfeeding rates. Mothers in the USA face a one-in-2,100 risk of maternal death, the highest of any industrialized nation. The death rate for children younger than 5 is eight per 1,000 births, on par with Bosnia and Herzegovina. A child in the USA is four times as likely as a child in Iceland to die before age 5. Forty countries performed better than the U.S. in this category. Maternal leave policies in the USA are among the least generous of any wealthy nation. It is the only developed country, and one of only a handful of countries in the world, that does not guarantee working mothers paid leave.
The U.S. trade deficit rose in March at the fastest rate in 10 months. A rise in imports of consumer goods lifted imports to a record level, outpacing a solid gain in U.S. exports. The Commerce Department says the trade deficit widened to $51.8 billion in March, from $45.4 billion in February. Imports rose 5.2% to a record $238.6 billion, reflecting more foreign oil, autos, cell phones and clothes. Exports increased 2.9% to $186.8 billion.
The number of people applying for unemployment benefits ticked down last week after dropping sharply the previous week, evidence hiring could pick again up this month. Weekly applications dropped 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 367,000 in the week ending May 5. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell 5,250 to 379,000, first decline since late March.
- Applications below 375,000 are considered to signal an expanding jobs market, so the economy seems stuck in neutral.
The nation has fewer homes for sale, and that’s helping prices in markets where low supplies are meeting strong demand. The U.S. had 2.37 million existing homes for sale at the end of March. That’s down 22% from a year ago and 41% from the peak in mid-2007. First-quarter home sales, meanwhile, were up 5.3% from a year ago. The combination of improving sales — coming off one of the worst years ever for home sales — and declining inventories is helping prices. The latest data shows prices up slightly in March from February.
Retiree health care costs have increased an average 6% a year since 2002, according to a study by Fidelity Investments. A 65-year-old couple would need $240,000 to cover medical expenses during their retirement years, it estimates. That amount could eat up 35% of the couple’s annual Social Security benefit. And it doesn’t even include any long-term care costs.
Mortgage giant Fannie Mae says it made money in the first three months of the year and is not seeking additional federal aid. It’s the first time the company has reported a profit since it was taken over by the government during the financial crisis. Fannie reports net income of $2.7 billion in the January-March quarter. That compares with a net loss of $6.5 billion in the first quarter of 2011. The company says the improvement was due to slower home price declines, reduced inventory of single-family homes and fewer mortgages in serious delinquency.
The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service sought Wednesday to tamp down concern over wide-scale cuts, revealing it will seek to keep thousands of rural post offices open with shorter hours. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said the mail agency was backing off its plan to close up to 3,700 low-revenue post offices sometime after May 15. Citing strong community opposition, Donahoe said the agency will now whittle down full-time staff but maintain a part-time post office presence in rural areas, with access to retail lobbies and post office boxes.
Talks to form a government following elections with no clear winner collapsed Wednesday and left in limbo Greece’s future in the European Union and its commitment to an international bailout of its debts. New Democracy took 19% of the vote in Sunday’s elections and Syriza received 17%, meaning neither can lead the government without the help of other parties. Talks between them to form a government together broke down over the issue of bailout in which Greece must slash its spending to qualify for money from the EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. Syriza is demanding revocation of the deal’s so-called austerity measures requiring Greece to cut public salaries and benefits, pointing out that more than 60% of Sunday’s vote went to parties demanding an end to the austerity measures.
Spain’s government will effectively nationalize the nation’s fourth largest bank to shore up the hurting banking sector and try to convince investors the country doesn’t need a bailout like those taken by Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Bankia faces the heaviest exposure among Spain’s banks to bad property loans caused by a construction boom that went bust, and holds about $40 billion in problematic loans. On Friday, the government is expected to announce a more wide-ranging banking system overhaul to free up frozen credit as Spain weathers a recession and 24.4% unemployment — the worst jobless rate among the 17 nations that use the euro.
Fifty people have been killed in two strong explosions that ripped through the Syrian capital. That makes Thursday morning’s bombings the deadliest attack on the capital since the country’s uprising began 14 months ago. The explosions heavily damaged a military intelligence building. The blasts wounded 170 people. The government has blamed terrorists, their euphemism for the opposition rebels. Central Damascus is tightly under the control of forces loyal to President Bashar Assad but has been struck by several bomb attacks, often targeting security installations or convoys.
A roadside bomb struck a Syrian military truck Wednesday, wounding six soldiers just seconds after a convoy carrying the head of the U.N. observer mission passed by. The attack was “a graphic experience that the Syrian people live with every day,” the head of the U.N. observer mission, Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, told reporters. Mood said he does not know whether the blast was meant to target the observers or the military. World powers share a “profound concern” that Syria is descending into civil war, international envoy Kofi Annan said Tuesday, but nations remain committed to his six-point peace plan and have pledged to deploy 300 cease-fire monitors there by the end of the month.
Afghanistan’s security situation has overshadowed the glaring humanitarian needs of the nation’s poorest, and their plight may worsen as international assistance wanes. Economic hardship could be an unwanted byproduct of the handover of security responsibilities to Afghan forces, as the U.S.-led military coalition prepares to pull out its foreign combat troops by the end of 2014. The transition will likely coincide with a decline in foreign aid that could lead to critical economic problems as related jobs dry up, according to a World Bank report released this week. The report said up to 10% of the work force has benefited from aid-financed jobs.
The United States has for several years been secretly releasing high-level detainees from a military prison in Afghanistan as part of negotiations with insurgent groups, a bold effort to quell violence but one that U.S. officials acknowledge poses substantial risks. As the United States has unsuccessfully pursued a peace deal with the Taliban, the “strategic release” program has quietly served as a live diplomatic channel, allowing American officials to use prisoners as bargaining chips in restive provinces where military power has reached its limits. But the releases are an inherent gamble: The freed detainees are often notorious fighters who would not be released under the traditional legal system for military prisoners in Afghanistan. They must promise to give up violence — and U.S. officials warn them that if they are caught attacking American troops, they will be detained once again.
- When will U.S. authorities realize that a dedicated (not even radical) Islamist does not fear capture or death in their demonic desire to sacrifice their life for jihad against Christianity and the western world?
Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s attorney — called by many a hero for his representation of religious minorities — may find himself serving a nine-year prison sentence soon, leaving Nadarkhani without a lawyer, Baptist Press reports. Attorney Mohammad Ali Dadkhah — a Muslim — said he was convicted of acting against national security, spreading propaganda and keeping banned books at home. He has represented Nadarkhani, who was sentenced to death in 2010 for converting from Islam to Christianity, since the case began in 2009. “This development only reinforces the fact that Iran has no regard for basic human rights,” said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice. “It also raises further concern about the fate of Pastor Youcef. With his attorney facing nine years in prison, and no other lawyer likely to take the case, Pastor Youcef has no legal advocate, which places him at greater risk.” Dadkhah previously told the ACLJ that if he himself were jailed, “no attorney would be willing” to take Nadarkhani’s case for fear of “being imprisoned or disbarred” for representing him. Dadkhah represented 12 Christians in Iran in April who had been charged with several crimes, including apostasy, or leaving Islam.
Just days after reclaiming the Russian presidency, Vladimir Putin has canceled his planned visit to the United States, where he’d been scheduled to attend a major economic summit and meet with President Obama. Putin claimed he was too busy finalizing cabinet appointments to make the May 18-19 G-8 Summit at Camp David. Yet the Obama administration had moved the gathering to the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland from the planned venue in Chicago partly to accommodate Putin. Whether or not the schedule change marked an intentional snub, Putin’s presidential campaign also was decidedly unfriendly toward the U.S., primarily over the planned placement of radars and missile interceptors in Romania and Poland, saying they would undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrent. The United States says the system is needed to protect against potential missile attacks by Iran and that the installations could not act against Russian missiles.
Police on Tuesday broke up a demonstration by hundreds of opposition activists who had spent the night outside the presidential administration offices to protest Vladimir Putin’s return as Russia’s president. Two prominent opposition leaders who had called their supporters to the small square in central Moscow were detained by police in the early hours of the morning but later released. They then joined up with dozens of their supporters who had moved on to another square, where they vowed to continue the roving protest. The cat-and-mouse game between protesters and police began on Monday, the day of Putin’s inauguration at a formal ceremony inside the Kremlin. The protest movement has shown an unexpected resilience. A demonstration on the eve of the inauguration drew well more than 20,000.
An aggressive air assault helped halt the spread of a wildfire in northern, Los Angeles County that destroyed several structures and prompted the evacuation of some 30 homes. The blaze erupted shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday near West Crown Valley Road in Acton and quickly spread due to gusty winds and low humidity. The 125-acre blaze was fully contained late Tuesday and all evacuated residents were allowed to return home.One mobile home, one outbuilding, two storage sheds and two vehicles were destroyed in the blaze.
The School Canyon fire sixteen miles southwest of Sierra Vista, Arizona, has consumed 7,770 acres of grassland. It is 50% contained as of Thursday morning. Residences in the area are threatened and are on alert for possible evacuation.
The dearth of snow that set back Colorado’s ski areas this winter is now taking its toll on farmers. Snow runoff traditionally fills up the ditches and ponds that farmers tap to irrigate crops. Not this year. The snow drought is translating to a lack of surface water for farmers who say their options for water are limited. The only option is well water, which has not been plentiful since the 2002 drought. The lack of water could cost farmers millions of dollars and translate to higher prices for consumers.
The nation’s unusual warmth keeps on rolling: Through April, the USA is experiencing its warmest year on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced on Tuesday, with a national average temperature of 45 degrees. This is 5 degrees above the long-term average. So far this year, more than 15,000 record high temperatures have been set across the nation, compared with about 1,100 record lows. The first four months of 2012 were also drier than average for the United States as a whole.
From gas-mileage standards to tax breaks for windmills, public support for “green” energy measures to tackle global warming has dropped significantly in the past two years, particularly among Republicans, a new poll suggests. Overall, support for various steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions has dropped an average of 10 percentage points since 2010, from 72% to 62%. The Stanford University poll shows 65% support gas-mileage standards and 73% support tax breaks for wind and solar power. But just 43% support tax breaks for nuclear power, 26% support increasing gasoline taxes and 18% support hiking taxes on home electricity.
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